Adverse Effects And Reactions Allergies And Toxicity

Tree nuts are one of the most common foods causing allergic reactions in children and adults. Macadamia nuts may occasionally cause serious IgE-mediated allergic reactions in sensitized individuals. Symptoms may include angioedema, dysphagia, chest tightness and pain, palpitations, dyspnea, dizziness, and severe itching. Very severe reactions may result in anaphylaxis. Cases are becoming more frequent, probably due to the increasing use of macadamia nuts. In an American study of 13,493 individuals, tree nut allergy was self-reported in 166 (1.2%) subjects. Of the subjects with tree nut allergy, for which information regarding specific nuts was available, 24% had an allergy to macadamia nuts (Sicherer et al., 2003).

Several non-commercial species of macadamias produce poisonous and/or inedible nuts, such as M. whelanii and M. ternifolia. The toxicity of these nuts is due to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides, which can be removed by prolonged leaching. While this makes these species of nuts commerically unviable, the practice has been used by Australian Aborigines.

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